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All reviews by David Marcus unless otherwise noted.
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Missing Time
The Gary Blair Ceilidh Band -- Gary Blair (accordion, additional percussion and additional synthesizer); Richard Wong (accordion, additional percussion and additional synthesizer); Stevie Mills (percussion) -- with guests Donald Shaw and Alan Kitchen (piano and synthesizers; Alastair McCulloch, fiddle; Dave Cowan, Bass Guitar) and Malky Blair (additional percussion). 12 tracks; 45'37". GBCD001
When one asks the question, "What is traditional music about?", or "What is Scottish dance music about?", there are many answers, but one that is too-rarely heard is "FUN". Technical merit--of which there is quite a bit--aside, this album is FUN. The musicians obviously take a lot of pleasure in what they do, and it is impossible not to receive a strong dose of it while listening. At the same time, while taking themselves too seriously, these guys are playing real ceilidh music that it is almost impossible to sit still to.

The musicians play extremely well--tops, really. Gary Blair and Richard Wong play as if they were one person with four hands (or maybe six hands). The sound is well-recorded and lively and even though the instrumentation is generally the same through all cuts, the variety of tempos and feelings in the different cuts makes for a CD of above-average variety. While I've had it for about a month, it has yet to stray far from the CD player.

The sound of two lead accordions and, in general, no other lead instrument is a nice change from most bands (and having played for over 10 years in bands without fiddles, I must say that I like it). On the other hand, the fiddle joins in on the last half Richard Wong's lovely waltz Kelly-Ann McLeod, a cut that also features some very tasty recorder-sounding synthesizer.

Other tracks include:

  • Jig Time (Morrison's Jig, Rory MacLeod, Glasgow City Police Pipers, Jeanette MacInnes)
  • Reel Time (The Joys of Quebec, Frenchie's Reel, The Stumbling Block, Margaret McLeod's Reel)
  • March Time (Linda MacFarlane, Master Alastair Cunningham Weir, Bobby Brown's Welcome to Scotland)
  • Waltz Time (The Red Rose Cafe, Les Bicyclette de Belsize)
  • Strathspey Time (The Boys of Bluehill, The March Hare)
  • Reel Time (Suzanne Barbour, C. M. Barbour, Miss Mary Printy)
  • Continental Time (Fliegende Blatter)
  • Two-Step Time (The Tobermory Two-Step, The Woodside Jig)
  • Waltz Time (The Black Mask Waltz, The Brissago Waltz)
  • Reel Time (The Tongadale Reel, Tam Lynn's Reel, Missing Time)

Of note is an exceptional cover of the Jamieson tune Kvelsdro, which starts as a simple air and picks up tempo, turning into a march that has almost a New Orleans brass band sound to it.

I don't think I've ever heard a CD of ceilidh music that is so enjoyable. This is a must for any Scottish music lover.

Rating: A-. Why the A minus instead of an A? At just under 46 minutes it is a slightly shorter album than most; the liner notes do little more than list the tunes; and the track list on the back of the jewel case is almost unreadable. Don't let that bother you too much, though; just buy and enjoy.

Order information: Gary Blair, Tel.: 01 41 886 2564 Email:

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